Recall of water absorbing balls that pose danger to children (Alpak Trade Pty Ltd / Fremantle Water Beads)

This announcement is for: 
ConsumerProduct safety

A national voluntary recall has been issued for water absorbing balls sold by a WA supplier as a toy which may pose a danger to children.

The supplier, Alpak Trade Pty Ltd trading as Fremantle Water Beads, has agreed to withdraw the water expandable polymer balls or water beads from the marketplace, but many of the products have already been sold in WA.

The voluntary recall is the result of actions by Consumer Protection product safety officers in WA after the balls were found to be on sale to children at the Perth Royal Show. They were also sold at the Fremantle Markets and online since March 2015.

While the polymer balls were originally designed for the florist industry to hold flowers in place and create a colourful addition to the display, some of these products are now being purchased and sold as a tactile toy for children.

If swallowed, the tiny balls can expand and block a child’s intestines or bowel and may also obstruct airways posing a choking hazard.

In Geraldton in December 2014, a two year old boy was treated at the local hospital after ingesting up to 12 water absorbing balls.. In some overseas cases, children have required surgery to have the expanded beads, which don’t show up on x-rays, removed. A death of a child in Pakistan has also been reported.

Commissioner for Consumer Protection David Hillyard said it is vital that these balls are not sold to children as toys.

“The colourful balls may look like lollies and be very attractive to a young child so parents and carers of children need to be on alert,” Mr Hillyard said.

“The balls sold by Fremantle Water Beads are about 2 to 3 millimetres in their original size but expand to 8 millimetres when expanded so can cause serious injury or even death if swallowed.”

“If you have these products in the home they should be kept well away from young children.”

Consumers who purchased the expandable polymer balls believing they were suitable for children can return them to Fremantle Water Beads for a full refund.

Further information on product safety is available at Reports of unsafe products being sold should be made to Consumer Protection by email: or by calling 1300 30 40 54.


Media Contact: Alan Hynd, (08) 6552 9248 / 0429 078 791 /  

Polymer water beads1
Polymer water beads1, by ahynd
Polymer water beads


Consumer Protection
Media release
09 Nov 2018

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